The High Court only deals with serious cases.
Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo said this when he referred SODELPA MP Simione Rasova’s case to the Magistrate’s Court.
He has instructed defense lawyer Barbara Malimali and the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption to discuss and agree on the trial process and timetable in the Suva Magistrate’s Court.
Justice Temo said the reassignment of cases to the Magistrate’s Court by the CJ was common occurrence, and the allegations in Mr Rasova’s case concerned money.
He said issues like murder were superior to that.
“The High Court only deals with serious cases like murder, manslaughter, aggravated robberies that are very serious, where victims have been seriously assaulted or violated and other serious cases,” he said.
Justice Temo also said the amount involved in Mr Rasova’s case – $21,350 – was “peanuts” compared with the amounts paid to prominent figures as revealed in the media recently.
He said the High Court was already “overburdened” with serious cases and this would affect the disposition of those cases.
Mr Rasova’s lawyer Barbara Malimali said she agreed with the court’s position, and that there was no rush to get the case over and done with.
The matter will be called again on February 9 and Mr Rasova’s bail was extended.
FICAC lawyer Darren Hicks agreed with Justice Temo that the charges against Mr Rasova, one count each of giving false information to a public servant and obtaining a financial advantage, were summary offences.
However, Mr Hicks disagreed that the offences, although summary in nature, should be heard by the Magistrate’s Court, in accordance with Section 4 (1) (c) of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA).